By Mike Steffanos
Although it was somewhat of a surprise that the Mets made their final roster calls today, the players going north hold no surprises.
Livan Hernandez (will be added to roster for April 11 start)
Quick Thoughts: Santana has looked great his last couple of times out. Pelfrey has had his ups and downs, but looks confident to pick up where he left off last year. Perez started to come around his last outing, and is always somewhat of a work in progress anyway. Maine had a nice start last night, but is probably the biggest question mark of the four at this time. Hernandez is what he is -- they're looking for him to keep them in the game for 6 or 7 innings.
In Reserve: Jonathon Niese and Freddy Garcia are the two likeliest to get an early call. Dylan Gee will start the year in AA-Binghamton, and a hot start could put him in the picture. Brad Holt is further from the majors but could put himself on the map if he gets out of the gate quick, too. No point in even thinking about Tim Redding until he actually starts throwing.
J. J. Putz
Quick Thoughts: The Mets elect to go with a couple of young guys, Parnell and O'Day, instead of a true long man and another lefty. It seems that Stokes will be the long man out of the gate, but Parnell could fill that role, too. The Mets need these guys to get off to a fast start or the natives are almost guaranteed to get restless. It will be interesting to see how Manuel uses Parnell out of the gate -- he has the best stuff but the least experience of the middle relievers.
In Reserve: Carlos Muniz, who rode the New Orleans shuttle back and forth a few times last year could be shuffling off to and from Buffalo this year. Eddie Kunz dropped off the radar dramatically this spring but could get another look. Waivers pickup Ken Takahashi might get a call if they decide to go second LOOGY after all. Beyond that lies mere cannon fodder, although it's conceivable that a kid like Gee might get a bullpen call in a pinch.
Quick Thoughts: You just hope Castro could stay healthy all year, because the more AB vs. left-handers he could take away from Schneider, the better off this offense will be. Schneider actually had respectable numbers for a catcher against RHP.
In Reserve: Not much. Robinson Cancel will be the likeliest first call-up. He plays the game right, but his bat has kept him in the minors for 99% of his career. Josh Thole has seen his stock rise nicely this spring, but he has a long way to go and a lot to learn.
Quick Thoughts: Luis Castillo has earned the chance to begin the season at 2B, but will need to be very productive to keep the boo birds away. That's going to be tough to do batting eighth, but he has virtually no margin for error. Delgado needs to get off to a quicker start this year after a lost first half in '08. Wright and Reyes need to just keep on keeping on. Alex Cora will backup at both 2B and SS, and has the defensive skills to actually allow Reyes a day off here and there, just don't look for much offense. Fernando Tatis, listed with the outfielders, will likely be the primary backup at 1B and 3B, though Cora could play 3B, too. Marlon Anderson could play 2B, too, if he sticks.
In Reserve: Again, not much. Andy Green and Argenis Reyes will be in Buffalo, most of the Mets better infield prospects are too far away to factor into 2009.
Quick Thoughts: You know what you are going to get from Carlos Beltran, the obvious question marks are Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church. We've written extensively on Murphy, who needs to maintain the high on-base percentage while hitting with some power. Church is a nice defensive OF who looked like he was finally fulfilling his potential before getting hurt last year. Can he really put a full, consistent campaign together?
Fernando Tatis will see a lot of time in both LF and RF, and will be the primary right-handed bat on the bench. If he produces offensively anywhere close to what he did last year, he'll be fine. He's had a nice spring, as has Jeremy Reed, who will provide defensive support in late innings for both Murphy and Tatis, the trick will be to find him enough AB to keep sharp. It would have been easier if he wasn't a leftie.
Marlon Anderson made this team out of the gate because he's a proven pinch-hitter. It will be interesting because I don't foresee a lot starts for him, so he will have to produce in one of the toughest jobs in baseball. I like him, but he'll be on the hot seat. Nick Evans will head to Buffalo once Livan comes up, but he'll easily be the first call-up if someone gets hurt or fails to produce. It's the right move -- he's had a great spring, but he's had plenty of AB while much of the team was at the WBC. Those AB won't be there to start the season, so he's better off playing every day and staying ready.
In Reserve (Beyond Evans): Can you hear the drums Fernando? If he could stay healthy, top prospect Fernando Martinez could very well see Citi Field this season as a player.